In partnership with Drinkaware
More than half of 18-24-year-old female students experienced sexual harassment on nights out, and that is completely unacceptable.
Seriously, more than half. Let that sink in.
What the hell is going on? How did we get here?
My first week at university was based around drinking and getting to know my fellow students. Combined with the fact that I’m leaving home for the first time away from the prying eyes of my parents, it was freedom.
Although fresher’s week is designed for students to get to know each other and settle in, around 60% of the students admitted that they are going out to get drunk.
Over a third of students go out twice or more each week. Alcohol is a huge driving factor behind sexual harassment cases. Most people would never dream of demeaning another person in a sexual way – but once they’ve had a drink things change.
While it may be unrealistic to stop students drinking to tackle harassment – we can help change the shocking culture of harassment by we all need to speaking up and doing something about it.
What we wear, how we look or the amount of alcohol consumed does not make it ok to grope fellow students, whether male or female.
An unreleased ICM research carried out for the alcohol education charity, Drinkaware, revealed that around 34% of all the 2000 students interviewed, experienced a form of sexual harassment such as inappropriate touching, comments or abuse on a night out.
Kate, a recent graduate (2016), says:
On the final night of Fresher’s Week, me and my friends were all at a club. We were all having a good time and some of the boys decided that they wanted to rip their own shirts off for a laugh. I was dancing near them and they abruptly decided that it would be a laugh to rip my shirt in half too so I was, essentially, wearing a skirt and a bra in the club.
I was extremely uncomfortable and went to the bathroom to try and fashion some way to cover myself up by tying my ripped shirt together. Thankfully, one of the Fresher’s reps saw what happened and gave me his shirt to cover myself with.
There is a real undercurrent of sexual harassment at university and I’ve experienced a lot of catcalling in my university town too. Women get harassed by people they know too, which has happened to me – I once had to throw a friend out of my house because he kept harassing me for sex. That incident happened in my third year and I was really angry about it, but if I was still a Fresher in my first year I would have been less confident and I wouldn’t have known what to do.
Any form of sexual harassment is not something that ends when it happens, it stays with the victim for life and could ruin the rest of any student’s university experience.
You can help put a stop to it! With most students on social media, Drinkaware and UNILAD are calling on young people to shout out against sexual harassment on social media, using #GropeFreeNights, in order to shine a spotlight on the issue.
Drinkaware will also have a team of specially trained staff, in four university towns across the country and by the end of the year, the scheme will be rolled out across the UK.
They will also be in bars and clubs to promote a positive social atmosphere, and offer support to those who might be vulnerable as a result of drinking too much, and ensure young people get home safely.